Archive for the ‘back surgery’ Category

And Another Health Update

November 20, 2008

Well, the neck, shoulder, arm, etc. continue to heal.  MB drove me up to Minneapolis for MMLA last weekend since I can’t quite drive long distances and I’m not comfortable in traffic (still tough to turn my neck quickly which poses problems in traffic).  It was a great trip.  I read a few poems on a creative writing panel, then we saw lots of friends, drank plenty of good beer, and had some great food. Just what the doctor ordered.

Got my staples out on Monday and Doc says things look good. I now find myself fairly close to normal in many ways (or as normal as I ever am I guess).  I can get around pretty easily, can do most things (although I’m still at about the 10 pound limit for lifting, but that can gradually increase now, and I can’t reach too far or there’s a sudden knife in my shoulder blade).  Sunday or Monday things started to improve rapidly and surgical pain seems pretty much gone. I can start in on my neck exercises now to try to get its muscle and range of motion back. He said I could also go back on my recumbent bike to try and get my heart really pumping again. My one real pain at this point is a mid-back muscle that feels like it’s pulled with any stretch or turn.  I’m going to see a massage therapist and probably a physical therapist to work it out.

So the one real issue at this point is use of my hand.  Doc is fairly non-committal about if/when it will fully return, but he’s generally optimistic.  Since I’m feeling relatively pain-free and am off meds at this point, I’ve started to take stock of where it stands so that I can better monitor progress.  The left side of the hand (pinkie side) remains numb and very weak.  Other fingers have feeling but they are limited in odd ways.  For instance, I can grip something pretty well with the hand, but then smaller motions I can’t do.  I can’t push toothpaste from the tube for instance.  I’ve been squeezing an exercise ball with both hands in every possible combination of fingers and thumb and I’m putting my hand generally at 25 to 50% of my healthy hand.  Some motions are closer to normal, but others are barely at a quarter strength.  As I’ve said before, this pretty much freaks me out, but I have a good baseline now and I’ll continue to monitor and to keep pushing it.  Not much else I can do I guess, so I’ll just keep the faith that it’s just a matter of time.


Slowly Back in Business

November 8, 2008

Just thought I’d give a little post-surgery update.  The surgery went fine, although it hurts like the dickens.  Spent one night in the hospital and then they get you up and moving.  Since I’ve been home I’m trying to walk as much as I can (although it’s not a whole lot) and then enjoying some vicodin-induced naps in the afternoon.  I’ve been able to work over the computer, but fortunately Jen Rouse, a fine poet who works in our library, was able to take over classes for me last week.  I’m going to attempt to go back to campus on monday, although I reserve the right to say it’s too soon at the last minute.  I go back to get staples removed a week from monday.  So now I’ve got about six weeks of no lifting (no house cleaning, darn it all!) and limited mobility, but I should be able to get around pretty normally.  The initial result seemed pretty good.  The nerve pain in shoulder and arm was gone, but the use of my left hand was still severely limited.  Doc gave it about an 80% shot that it would slowly return to normal (from a week to 18 months was the range he gave me).  The 20% there certainly still scares me, but we’ll cross that bridge if/when it becomes a reality.  Till then I’m going on the assumption that use of my hand will all come back.  On the other hand (no pun intended), the last two nights I’ve had muscle spasms in shoulder and upper arm that are reminiscent of the original pain.  Hard to tell if it’s the return of the nerve problem or just a result of the surgery and starting to use those muscles again.  I’m opting for the latter and trust it will clear up as I’m able to regain mobility and muscle strength (incredible how fast muscles start to atrophy!).  So, that’s the news from here.   It ain’t no fun, but I know it could be a whole lot worse, too.  And best of all, my wife helped me bottle my stout and winter warmer before surgery so I can sit and watch it age to perfection.  I’ll let you know how it tastes in a month or so.

Join the Pain

October 30, 2008

I have always been blessed with ridiculously good health.  I don’t get sick.  When I get hurt I heal incredibly fast.  On the other side of the scale, MB who takes really good care of herself has been burdened with many unfortunate health circumstances that have given her an unfair share of pain and turmoil over the years.  It has been difficult to watch at times, but both of us have been thankful for my health.  Well, the wheel turns I suppose.  This summer I had some shoulder pain and spasms that a therapist worked through with me.  I had felt really good with no pain for about two months. Then suddenly about two weeks ago the left side of my body went into excruciating, crippling pain, migrating across my back then down my arm and eventually leaving my left hand immobilized, numb and with no motor control (I’m slowly learning to type one-handed again).  Just went to see a neurosurgeon who said the pain was unfortunate but not dangerous; the hand, however, meant I have nerve damage from a ruptured disc in my neck.  He said don’t fuck with it.  Without surgery it could be permanent, an idea that scares me more than the surgery itself.  So, Monday, I’ll go and get my neck operated on.  I’m scared, yes, but I trust it will be worth it.  As is, I can barely function these days, so here I go.  I’m sorry my wife has gone through this kind of pain for so many years, but on the other hand I’m glad to have someone who knows what it’s like by my side.  Now, my big question is can I function enough to bottle my Russian Imperial Stout and my maple winter warmer that need to be bottled.  If I can’t get them done this weekend, they won’t get bottled for at least two more months.  Hey, nobody can tell me I haven’t at least kept my priorities!